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Books Are Daughters by Greg Jolley

December 24, 2020 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Guest Posts, Rabt Book Tours tagged as , , , , ,

With the recent launch of The Collectors, I experienced the same fine emotion I always feel when a book is shared with readers and reviewers. To me, each book is a like a daughter, stepping off the porch barefoot, a bit disheveled, but grinning—perhaps smirking—as she heads out into the real world. As I watch her head on up the road with her battered suitcase and tousled hair, I wish her all the best, confident that I have loved her and done my very best to raise her well. We’ve had our ups and downs, disagreements and arguments, but this was always in the spirit of helping her become the best that she can be.

As always, I hope her journey is good and interesting, just before the screen door slams and I head to my back office, where another young one is waiting to be born.

This is why when I’m asked about having a favorite Danser novel, the answer is always no. How can you, and why would you ever favor one darling child over another?

All the best,

Greg Jolley
The Danser Novels

About The Author

Greg Jolley earned a Master of Arts in Writing from the University of San Francisco and lives in the very small town of Ormond Beach, Florida. When not writing, he researches historical crime, primarily those of the 1800s. Or goes surfing.

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a man walking away in the spooky fog

The Collectors
Greg Jolley

Publisher: BHC Press
December 15, 2020

Suspense, Thriller

Pierce Danser is on the hunt for his soon-to-be ex-wife, the actress Pauline Place, who’s disappeared from the Black Island film set in the heat swarmed waters off the Mexican coast. A wealthy “collector” with a black heart and dangerous, evil mind has kidnapped her, planning a forced marriage to complete his manage of twisted museum pieces. As Pierce starts down the winding, dark, and deadly path in pursuit, his journey is a roller coaster through a horror show. No matter the grisly and dangerous obstacles, he is determined to rescue Pauline, even if it means the loss of his own life.

The clock is ticking, his resources are slim and he’s up against a man of great means as well as a twisted, cruel vision.

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THE COLLECTORS

Excerpt

Chapter One

TIN CAN

“Welcome to the film set, Mr. Kiharazaka. Please mind your step, we’re having a problem with vermin.”

The tall, thin man, fresh from Kyoto, adjusted his stride, placing each step of his spacesuit boots gingerly.

“I’m Rolf. Can I call you Zaka?” the assistant director went on.

“Please, no,” Mr. Kiharazaka replied demurely.

“Got it.”

“Will we be going weightless? It was in the original scene.”

“We’re woking on that, yes.”                                                                                                 

“Woking?”

“A joke. Sort of.”

A few yards away, green gaffing tape marked the edge of the darkened film set. Rolf spoke into her headset and the lights came up, revealing the interior of the spacecraft: the complex helm and seating for the crew. The second set—the crew table and galley kitchen—was half-lit in the distance.

Mr. Kiharazaka stared with unreserved delight. The crew had accurately replicated the 1990s television series Tin Can’s two most famous locations.

Members of the film crew were already on the set, at their places among the equipment; lights, extended boom mics, and various cameras, some dollied and some shoulder-held. Mr. Kiharazaka had to rotate stiffly in his spacesuit, turning his helmet, visor up, to watch the young, professional film crew. He nodded to some and spoke to none. For the most part, these serious professionals looked right through him, focused on their craft.

“Please step in, Zaka. We’d like you to feel comfortable in both locations.”

“Where is the cast? The Robbins family?”

“Soon enough. Please.” Rolf extended her hand and Zaka crossed the green tape and stepped into the helm, noting that the flooring was white painted plywood. With the flight helmet on, the voices about the set were muted. Zaka stared at the helm, admiring, but not touching, the multiple displays. He stood back of Captain Robbins’s helm chair, taking in all the exacting details of the complex spacecraft controls. Easing between the captain and copilot chair, he turned to Rolf with his white gloved hand out to the second chair, asked, “May I?”

Rolf gave him her buttery professional smile.

“Captain, permission to man the helm?” Zaka asked.

Rolf rolled her eyes, up into the complex scaffolding above. The client was already in role, using the famous and familiar dialogue from the Tin Can series. Since none of the cast was yet on set, Rolf answered for Matt Stuck, the sod of an actor who played Captain Robbins.

“Aye, mate. Take thar helm,” she spoke the next well-known line with a grimace.

Zaka bowed to her voice and twisted around into the copilot’s chair.

She looked on as Zaka began the familiar series of taps and changes on the right side of the helm. She could hear him identifying each click and adjustment he made. He was doing a good job mimicking the terse, focused voice of copilot Sean Robbins, but his inflections were clearly Japanese.

The director, Rose Daiss, entered the soundstage, crossed to the set, and for once didn’t trip on the snakes of cables. She wobbled her large rear into the La-Z Boy with “Director” stenciled on the back. Her nickname was “Bottles” and never used in her presence—it was a reference to the many times she had washed up. Her pudgy face was nip-and-tuck stretched, her skin was rough, but rouged well. She did have good hair.

The director’s personal assistants entered the soundstage and roamed to their places just back of the cameras. They donned headsets and leisurely took up their positions, standing deferentially to Bottles’s side, their faces lit by the glow of their tablets.

Rolf shouted for status among the film’s crews, and they called back equally loud. Lighting, boom mics, and cameras leaned in on the set. Mr. Zaka climbed from the helm and walked back into the spacecraft along the equipment bays on the left wall—the right wall of equipment didn’t exist, providing the view for one of the many cameras. He tapped a brief series on the wall panel and the air lock door opened with a gasp. He stepped through, the door closing at his heels, and crossed the short area of soundstage to the side entrance of the crew and kitchen set. Zaka took in every detail of the reproduced Tin Can galley as he moved carefully through the room. He eased himself into his role and the chair assigned to Ruth Robbins, the flight crew’s matriarch.

The director shouted at her assistants, barking orders and questions, sounding semi-lucid. Rose’s drug-addled, fast-clipped voice received intimidated replies. She was enjoying their pale, cowering expressions while chasing two lines of thought, a mixture of movie-making aesthetics and redundant direction. Her face was beading with drug sweat on her upper lip and brow.

Where’s my cast?” Rose bellowed, finishing the tirade. That done, she promptly nodded off, delighting Rolf, who then inherited the director’s role.

Zaka was exploring the many displays embedded in the galley table, trying to ignore the shouting.

“Heat it up,” Rolf instructed her underling

The assistant typed a series of brief commands on his tablet and the script dialogue for Ruth Robbins—whom Zaka had paid dearly to portray—appeared. The script was scroll ready and at an angle on the galley table that couldn’t be seen by the cameras.

Rolf heard the cast crossing to the set, a scuffing of moon boots and voices approaching from the soundstage. A sweeping flashlight beam guided their way. The cast moved into the back glow from the lights on the set. Rolf pressed the inside of her cheek between her teeth and bit down. Most of the original cast had been hired or persuaded to appear in the remake of the famous season seven-ending cat fight scene. The brawl between the Robbins’ daughters was nominally, impotently, refereed by the only member of the flight crew who was not a member of the family: the handsome, irreverent, and sociopathic engineer, Greer Nails.

Twenty-two years had been most unkind to the once-famous family members. Greer Nails appeared overinflated; the penchant for food and wine, and dessert, over the past years of dimming celebrity had taken their toll. His formerly idolized face was jowled, reddened, and fat. His spacesuit looked like a white dirigible.

The other cast members were naked save their space helmets. Time and gravity and overindulgence had also taken a toll on their bodies. Greer Nails was the lone holdout from nudity, and with obese good reason.

The scene that Zaka had chosen from the menu provided by the studio had cost him a breathless $3.7 million. An additional $1.3 million was invoiced when he selected the option off the Premiere menu for the cast to be nude except for space helmets. He had expressed his desire to be part of the famous scene’s reenactment, in the role of Ruth Robbins, the space family matriarch. Most of his role was to be aghast at the start of a violent family shouting match and brawl. Later, he would be able to view the vignette time and again, for all eternity, receiving sole ownership of the footage of this and the other short scene as part of the package he had paid for.

Zaka watched his castmates approach, trying to keep his eyes on their helmets, not their nakedness. He was delighted and light headed with his proximity to the famous—the real flesh instead of celluloid, but their memorized faces were distorted by their helmets.

Nods were used in lieu of greetings. They had met during rehearsal earlier in the day. Places were taken, and Rolf reviewed the lighting and camera placements.

The first scene was succinctly re-rehearsed. This was of little use to Zaka, who had the script committed to memory.  But the rehearsal helped him dissolve some of his lighter-than-air headiness. The rest of the cast drolly joined the read and walk through, their acting marked by a blend of boredom, professionalism, and chemicals.

Zaka was delighted. Here he was, a real actor with an important part in the infamous scene’s reenactment. It was all he could to not giggle. He somehow found the ability to maintain Ruth Robbins’s dithering mothering role.

Julianne, the slutty smart sister, stepped past Greer and pantomimed the jerk-off gesture that would set off her sibling, “Cy,” as in Cyborg. In the television series, Cy had been Greer Nail’s budding romantic interest.

Zaka was enthralled, but also concerned. He had paid for Captain Robbins to sit at the head of the galley table, and he was nowhere to be seen.A booming, authoritative voice carried from the back of the soundstage.

 “Welcome to Tin Can Two, Mr. Kiharazaka. You are certainly star material, mm-hmm!” Fatima Mosley called out.

Fatima was the studio head, noticeably short and burdened by a massive chest that gave her stride a wobble. She was dressed in an elegant and trendy style, including a beret. She had a titanium leg, the original lost to disease. The metal ratcheted when her knee articulated.

“Zaka’s doing a great job.” Rolf called over, not turning from the rehearsal.

“It’s Kiharazaka, please,” Zaka politely corrected Rolf again.

“Actually, it’s Ruth Robbins,” Fatima smiled, causing her cheeks to fill and her eyes to disappear.

Zaka flushed with pride at being addressed as Ruth.

“All is well, mm-hmm?” Fatima asked Zaka.

“Yes, yes. Might I ask? Is Captain Robbins ready? And son Sean Robbins?”

“Why, here’s Sean now,” Fatima answered, her crunched face dissolving downward, revealing her wise, ferret eyes. She didn’t explain Captain Robbins’s absence, and Zaka showed good manners by not repeating his question.

Sure enough, Sean Robbins, the Tin Can’s copilot appeared from the shadows of the soundstage, naked save his helmet and boots, looking slightly sedated—well, a lot sedated. His birdlike wrists hung limp.

There was a white worm of drool creeping from his face, now ravaged by years of amphetamine addiction. He was escorted by two of the bigger grips, who held his scarecrow thin arms and pulled him along, his moon boots sketching the soundstage flooring.

The sisters, Cy and Julianne, did not look pleased to be reanimating their once famous daughter roles, no matter the money. They were clearly drugged to an agitated condition and firing foul slurs, even before the shoot began. Julianne had a wrench tattoo on her naked, once-perfect boob. Cy’s sensual body was scarecrow thin, as though drawn of all blood.

The grips assisted Sean Robbins into the hot lights and seated him at the galley table. He opened one eye and panned it across the cameras and lights aimed on him, then barfed into his own lap.

“Unpleasant, mm-hmm,” Fatima observed.

Zaka did the brave thing—he stayed in role, putting on his best Mrs. Robbins bemused and maternal expression.

“Nice,” Rolf encouraged him.

One of the grips wiped up Sean’s vomit. The other cleaned off his chest. Sean stood up and looked on, patting one of the men on the top of the head.

Rolf called out, “I have the set!”

From the film crews came sharp, short calls, and the boom mics lowered overhead.

“Quiet, quiet!” Rolf delighted in her temporary directing role.

“Lock it up,” she hollered.

“Places,” she shouted to the cast.

“Cameras up!”

“Roll sound.”

“Roll camera.”

A young woman appeared with an electric slate, shouted a brief stream of incomprehensible code, clacked the device, and disappeared.

Zaka did well, not looking to Captain Robbins’s empty seat at the head of the table.

Rolf yelled, “Action,” and the movie magic began.

For Zaka, there was a spiritual lift, even as he stayed in his rehearsed movements. He allowed himself to experience the elation, but stayed in the role of motherly concern.

Julianne entered the scene from the door to the helm. She moved behind Sean, who had a line of dialogue but missed. Staring at Cy, she stepped to Greer’s side and hefted the weight of his groin. Cy transitioned fast and smooth, from agog to madness. She fired forward and attacked, going for the smirk on her sister’s face with a clawed left hand and the space cup in the other.

As scripted, Mrs. Robbins took one step back from her end of the table, her expression alarmed and offended.

Greer was looking down at his groped crotch like he was just then realizing he had one. He leaned back as Cy collided with Julianne, and the brawl exploded with screams and nails and fists. The two careened off the galley counter and shelving, swinging and connecting blows.

If Captain Robbins had been at the head of the table, he would have moved fast to separate the two, looking sad and determined and disappointed. Instead, a bit of ad lib occurred, the two brawlers tumbling low in the shot, fists and knees swinging and pumping. Greer performed the ad lib, turning to the mayhem with a slack expression and barfing on himself again.

Mrs. Robbins went into action. She stomped manfully to her scuffling daughters, arms shooing, intending to break up the chaos on the spaceship floor. She was two strides away when Greer stepped out and pushed her back. Mrs. Robbins resisted, flailing her arms, eyes wide with alarm. Greer held her true. The fight continued, the sisters grunting and gasping. Hair was grabbed, a low fist was thrown. Julianne coughed in pain. Cy let out a cry, “You bitch!”

That was Zaka’s cue. He looked away, eyes upward and spoke the season-ending line, “My daughters. The sluts.”

“Cut. Cut. Cuu. Cuush . . .” Rose Daiss, the replaced director, called out in a trailing off slur. She was ignored.

The brawl continued. A mangy rat crossed the plywood set boards, scurrying away from the fisticuffs. The two beefy grips stepped to the edge of the set, poised to separate the sisters. The brawl looked real enough to them.

Rolf took the director’s prerogative, screaming at everyone.

“Cut!”


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December Featured Author: Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC

December 21, 2020 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Contests, Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , , , , ,

About Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC

The Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC (BWG), is a community of mutually supportive fiction and nonfiction authors based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The members are as different from each other as their stories. BWG also publishes quality fiction through their online literary journal, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, and their award-winning  A Sweet, Funny, and Strange Anthology series.

Each anthology has an overall theme—broadly interpreted—but includes a variety of genres. All but the first anthology include stories from the winner(s) of The Bethlehem Writers Short Story Award.

Their first anthology, A Christmas Sampler: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Holiday Tales (2009), won two Next Generation Indie Book Awards: Best Anthology and Best Short Fiction.

Released December 1, 2020, the latest title in A Sweet, Funny and Strange Anthology series is Fur, Feathers, and Scales: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Animal Tales.

Buy from Amazon
Buy from Apple Books
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Kobo

About Fur, Feathers and Scales

The award-winning “Sweet, Funny, and Strange” series of anthologies from the Bethlehem Writers Group, continues with this collection of twenty-five tales about real, legendary, or imaginary animals. From snakes to ducks to unicorns, there are tales here to match any mood, provide a chuckle, or warm a heart.

Among our tales, Peter Barbour recounts a legend in “Why Bats Live in Caves,” Jerome W. McFadden asks the question of what animal to choose to be in “Recycled,” A. E. Decker shares an appreciation of cephalopods in “Tipping Point,” Ralph Hieb imagines an unconventional pet in “Buttons,” and Diane Sismour, in “Critter,” reveals that mules are not the only equines that can have a stubborn streak.

In addition, we are happy to present the winning stories from the 20 I 9 and 2020 Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Short Story Awards. Angela Albertson, our 20I9 winner, shares her heartfelt “Oranges and Roses,” and our 2020 winner, Brett Wolff, gives us a good laugh in “Hubbard Has a Fancy Bra.”

This eclectic assemblage of stories includes terrific tales from beloved BWG authors including Courtney Annicchiarico, Jeff Baird, Jodi Bogert, Marianne H. Donley, DT Krippene, Emily P. W. Murphy, Christopher D. Ochs, Dianna Sinovic, Kidd Wads­worth, Paul Weidknecht, Carol L. Wright, and Will Wright.

So cuddle up with your favorite pet-real or imaginary. No matter. You’ll find just the right story to share.


Next up for BWG

A bird on a tree branch

BWG is working on their Seventh anthology, An Element of Mystery: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales of Intrigue.

In connection with this anthology, they are hosting The Bethlehem Writers 2021 Short Story Award

The 2021 Short Story Award will open on January 1, 2021.  The theme will be An Element of Mystery (broadly interpreted).

BWG is seeking never-published short stories of 2,000 words or fewer.  First Place will receive $250 and publication in their upcoming anthology: An Element of Mystery: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales of Intrigue or in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.

The final judge of the 2021 Short Story Award is New York Times best-selling author Charlaine Harris.


Books from Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC

Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC

The Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC (BWG), founded in 2006, is a community of mutually supportive, fiction and nonfiction authors based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The members are as different from each other as their stories, spanning a range of genres including: children’s, fantasy, humor, inspiration, literary, memoir, mystery, paranormal, romance, science fiction, women’s fiction, and young adult.

See the schedule of meetings and events here.


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December Featured Author: Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC

December 14, 2020 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Contests, Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , , , , ,

About Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC

The Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC (BWG), is a community of mutually supportive fiction and nonfiction authors based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The members are as different from each other as their stories. BWG also publishes quality fiction through their online literary journal, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, and their award-winning  A Sweet, Funny, and Strange Anthology series.

Each anthology has an overall theme—broadly interpreted—but includes a variety of genres. All but the first anthology include stories from the winner(s) of The Bethlehem Writers Short Story Award.

Their first anthology, A Christmas Sampler: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Holiday Tales (2009), won two Next Generation Indie Book Awards: Best Anthology and Best Short Fiction.

Released December 1, 2020, the latest title in A Sweet, Funny and Strange Anthology series is Fur, Feathers, and Scales: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Animal Tales.

Buy from Amazon
Buy from Apple Books
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Kobo

About Fur, Feathers and Scales

The award-winning “Sweet, Funny, and Strange” series of anthologies from the Bethlehem Writers Group, continues with this collection of twenty-five tales about real, legendary, or imaginary animals. From snakes to ducks to unicorns, there are tales here to match any mood, provide a chuckle, or warm a heart.

Among our tales, Peter Barbour recounts a legend in “Why Bats Live in Caves,” Jerome W. McFadden asks the question of what animal to choose to be in “Recycled,” A. E. Decker shares an appreciation of cephalopods in “Tipping Point,” Ralph Hieb imagines an unconventional pet in “Buttons,” and Diane Sismour, in “Critter,” reveals that mules are not the only equines that can have a stubborn streak.

In addition, we are happy to present the winning stories from the 20 I 9 and 2020 Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Short Story Awards. Angela Albertson, our 20I9 winner, shares her heartfelt “Oranges and Roses,” and our 2020 winner, Brett Wolff, gives us a good laugh in “Hubbard Has a Fancy Bra.”

This eclectic assemblage of stories includes terrific tales from beloved BWG authors including Courtney Annicchiarico, Jeff Baird, Jodi Bogert, Marianne H. Donley, DT Krippene, Emily P. W. Murphy, Christopher D. Ochs, Dianna Sinovic, Kidd Wads­worth, Paul Weidknecht, Carol L. Wright, and Will Wright.

So cuddle up with your favorite pet-real or imaginary. No matter. You’ll find just the right story to share.


Next up for BWG

A bird on a tree branch

BWG is working on their Seventh anthology, An Element of Mystery: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales of Intrigue.

In connection with this anthology, they are hosting The Bethlehem Writers 2021 Short Story Award

The 2021 Short Story Award will open on January 1, 2021.  The theme will be An Element of Mystery (broadly interpreted).

BWG is seeking never-published short stories of 2,000 words or fewer.  First Place will receive $250 and publication in their upcoming anthology: An Element of Mystery: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales of Intrigue or in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.

The final judge of the 2021 Short Story Award is New York Times best-selling author Charlaine Harris.


Books from Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC

Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC

The Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC (BWG), founded in 2006, is a community of mutually supportive, fiction and nonfiction authors based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The members are as different from each other as their stories, spanning a range of genres including: children’s, fantasy, humor, inspiration, literary, memoir, mystery, paranormal, romance, science fiction, women’s fiction, and young adult.

See the schedule of meetings and events here.


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December Featured Author: Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC

December 7, 2020 by in category Apples & Oranges by Marianne H. Donley, Contests, Featured Author of the Month tagged as , , , , , ,
Christmas babbles surrounding the title of the post

About Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC

The Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC (BWG), is a community of mutually supportive fiction and nonfiction authors based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The members are as different from each other as their stories. BWG also publishes quality fiction through their online literary journal, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, and their award-winning  A Sweet, Funny, and Strange Anthology series.

Each anthology has an overall theme—broadly interpreted—but includes a variety of genres. All but the first anthology include stories from the winner(s) of The Bethlehem Writers Short Story Award.

Their first anthology, A Christmas Sampler: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Holiday Tales (2009), won two Next Generation Indie Book Awards: Best Anthology and Best Short Fiction.

Released December 1, 2020, the latest title in A Sweet, Funny and Strange Anthology series is Fur, Feathers, and Scales: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Animal Tales.

Buy from Amazon
Buy from Apple Books
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from Kobo

About Fur, Feathers and Scales

The award-winning “Sweet, Funny, and Strange” series of anthologies from the Bethlehem Writers Group, continues with this collection of twenty-five tales about real, legendary, or imaginary animals. From snakes to ducks to unicorns, there are tales here to match any mood, provide a chuckle, or warm a heart.

Among our tales, Peter Barbour recounts a legend in “Why Bats Live in Caves,” Jerome W. McFadden asks the question of what animal to choose to be in “Recycled,” A. E. Decker shares an appreciation of cephalopods in “Tipping Point,” Ralph Hieb imagines an unconventional pet in “Buttons,” and Diane Sismour, in “Critter,” reveals that mules are not the only equines that can have a stubborn streak.

In addition, we are happy to present the winning stories from the 20 I 9 and 2020 Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Short Story Awards. Angela Albertson, our 20I9 winner, shares her heartfelt “Oranges and Roses,” and our 2020 winner, Brett Wolff, gives us a good laugh in “Hubbard Has a Fancy Bra.”

This eclectic assemblage of stories includes terrific tales from beloved BWG authors including Courtney Annicchiarico, Jeff Baird, Jodi Bogert, Marianne H. Donley, DT Krippene, Emily P. W. Murphy, Christopher D. Ochs, Dianna Sinovic, Kidd Wads­worth, Paul Weidknecht, Carol L. Wright, and Will Wright.

So cuddle up with your favorite pet-real or imaginary. No matter. You’ll find just the right story to share.


Next up for BWG

A bird on a tree branch

BWG is working on their Seventh anthology, An Element of Mystery: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales of Intrigue.

In connection with this anthology, they are hosting The Bethlehem Writers 2021 Short Story Award

The 2021 Short Story Award will open on January 1, 2021.  The theme will be An Element of Mystery (broadly interpreted).

BWG is seeking never-published short stories of 2,000 words or fewer.  First Place will receive $250 and publication in their upcoming anthology: An Element of Mystery: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales of Intrigue or in Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.

The final judge of the 2021 Short Story Award is New York Times best-selling author Charlaine Harris.


BWG Workshops and Critique Groups

Besides anthologies, yearly writing contests, and The Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, the group hosts twice monthly writing workshops/critique groups for local members and a monthly digital workshop/critique group for long distance members.  You can see the schedule of BWG meetings and events, including author signings  here.


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Author Marianne H. Donley–a woman of many, many talents!!

December 2, 2020 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , , , ,

Marianne H. Donley | A Slice of OrangeMarianne H. Donley writes fiction from short stories to funny romances and quirky murder mysteries fueled by her life as a mom and a teacher. She makes her home in Tennessee with her husband, son, and a new puppy. Marianne manages the multi-author blog, A Slice of Orange. She’s a member of Bethlehem Writers Group, Romance Writers of America, Music City Romance Writers,Sisters in Crime, and Charmed Writers.

You can find all her social media links at https://linktr.ee/mariannehdonley

We’re here today with an amazing woman of many talents: Author, Editor, Wife, Mother, Friend and the woman who is the creator of this wonderful blog site—A Slice of Orange. She’s a featured author in the newest anthology from the Bethlehem Writers Groups’ awarding-winning “Sweet, Funny, and Strange” series of anthologies, FUR, FEATHERS AND SCALES!

Jann: You have two adorable tales in Fur, Feathers, and Scales, which made its debut yesterday. The first, When I Was Your Age and the second, Why Children Have Their Father’s Last Name. How did you come up with the ideas for your stories?

Marianne: From life! When I Was Your Age was based on my grandmother (my dad’s mother). She had so many stories about growing that got worse every time she told them.  Why Children Have Their Father’s Last Name is totally about my husband and my sister, and they were not the good little bunnies.

Jann: I love the book cover. It’s perfect. Who did it?The cover title fur, feathers, and scales sweet, funny, and strange animal tales with a group of animals along the bottom edge

Marianne: Well, now I’m blushing. Thank you. I did the front cover, and my partner-in-crime, Carol L. Wright did the back cover for the print version.

Jann: All the stories are remarkable. What was the experience like being one of the Editors for the book and one of the Authors?

Marianne: Well, we have rules.

Rule number one—you don’t edit your own stories.

Rule number two—all the stories (with the exception of the contest winners) must be workshopped by Bethlehem Writers Group at one of our semi-monthly critique meetings.

Rule number three—editing is not writing. Just because I wouldn’t write a story the way you would write that story does not mean you are wrong. Different is not wrong. We have to let the author’s voice shine through. I hope we have done that.

Rule number four—writing is not editing. If the editor makes a suggestion to me, I need to have a really good reason not to follow that suggestion.

Jann: This book has everything from unicorns to wolves to bunnies. However, the one with ants hit home with me, as I have been battling those beasts for years in my home. Tell us about how this anthology came about and the authors who are contributors from the Bethlehem Writers Group.

Marianne: Ah! The ants–Six Feet Under by Dianna Sinovic. I must say I related to that story as well. Every summer in California—ants.

When we’re brainstorming the “theme” for our next anthology our members all throw out ideas, and we debate the merits of each idea. It’s a pretty lively discussion because we have all stripes of authors–children’s, fantasy, humor, inspiration, literary, memoir, mystery, paranormal, romance, science fiction, women’s fiction, and young adult.

We look for themes that are appealing to most of the members. We also run The Short Story Award in conjunction with the theme of our anthologies. So, we look for ideas that we think will attract the interest of other authors. We always interpret the theme—broadly—so there is a lot of creative leeway for the authors to come up with a sweet, funny, or strange story.

The first anthology was a natural—A Christmas Sampler—because we’re based in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, The Christmas City. Animal stories, I believe, was suggested by Jeff Baird. He writes very heart-felt stories about the dogs in his life.

A bird on a tree branchOur next anthology, scheduled for 2022, is An Element of Mystery, Sweet, Funny and Strange Tales of Intrigue. The Short Story Award opens for entries on January 1st.

Authors interested in submitting to The Short Story Award might like to read some of the finalist for Fur, Feathers, and Scales to see what we like. The second place, third place and honorable mention stories will be published in the 2021 Winter Issue of The Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, our online magazine—also available January 1st.  You, Jann, will recognize one of the honorable mentions—Louella Nelson!  (I may have shouted when her name was announced.)

Any member of BWG can submit a story (or two or three) to our anthologies, providing it has been workshopped by the whole group.  Any member can elect not to submit a story. Since we’re working on our seventh anthology, I think we have a system that works.

Jann: I know you write short stories, romances and murder mysteries. Is any one of these genres your favorite? What are you currently working on?

Marianne: I go back and forth. My mysteries always have a romance sub-plot and my romances usually have a dead body somewhere. Probably from all those Mary Stewart and Elizabeth Peters novels I read over and over. Currently, short stories seem to be the easiest for me to finish. Right now, I’m working on a cozy-ish novel with a romance and plotting a short mystery.

Jann: With everything going on in your life, how do you keep it all together?

Marianne: That made me laugh. So . . .

1) Don’t look in my closets.

2) Dennis does the grocery shopping and birthday shopping and Christmas shopping. He wraps the presents, too. (Okay sort of—gift bags are his favorite and he hates bows. But since I don’t have to do it, I’m good with this.)

3) I only need about 6 hours of sleep every night. No matter what time I go to bed, I walk up 6 hours later. I do work on thinks when everyone else is sleeping.

4) I have a lot of friends who help out.  Look how seamless A Slice of Orange ran when my son had a medical emergency this Spring.

5) I have a lot of family who are also willing to help. All I have to do is ask.

Jann: This was so much fun.  Thank you, Marianne, for spending time with us talking about Fur, Feathers, and Scales, which is available now, and you.

Fur, Feathers and Scales and Other Book with Stories by Marianne H. Donley

A READABLE FEAST

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A READABLE FEAST
FUR, FEATHERS AND SCALES: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Animal Tales

LET IT SNOW

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LET IT SNOW

ONCE AROUND THE SUN

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ONCE AROUND THE SUN

ONCE UPON A TIME

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ONCE UPON A TIME
UNTETHERED: SWEET, FUNNY, AND STRANGE TALES OF THE PARANORMAL

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